5 Things to Know After Receiving Your COVID-19 Vaccine
Vaccination efforts are ramping up across the country. As of Sunday, February 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported some 38.3 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including about 14.1 million people who are now fully vaccinated. Chances are you now know someone who has been vaccinated, but there is still much work to be done.
Top health experts believe 70-to-90 percent of the population will have to be vaccinated before we reach herd immunity. Until then, the CDC says it is important for everyone -- including those who are fully vaccinated -- to continue to take precautions to protect themselves and others:
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth -- (check out our last blog for tips to improve fit)
- Stay at least 6 feet away from people not in your household
- Avoid crowds
- Avoid poorly ventilated spaces
- Wash your hands often
Here are five things you should know after you’ve received your COVID-19 vaccination, to help understand why these precautions are still necessary.
1 - Maximum vaccine effectiveness is not immediate. A person is not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after receiving a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Immunity will continue to build over those two weeks.
2 - There is still a small chance you could get sick. Current vaccines have been shown to be up to 95% effective at preventing severe illness, but do not guarantee complete immunity. COVID-19 is still circulating at very high rates in the community, so continuing to take precautions will further reduce your risk.
3 - It may be possible to infect others. We know the vaccine is effective at preventing symptomatic illness, but we do not yet know if people can get sick and not show symptoms allowing them to spread the virus to others. Research is underway to determine if asymptomatic transmission is possible.
4 - It will take time to achieve herd immunity. Herd immunity is the point at which enough people have become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely. Top health experts, including those at the World Health Organization, originally believed 60 to 70 percent of the population would need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity against COVID-19, but many scientists now believe that number is likely between 70 and 90 percent. Currently only four percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated.
5 - Some COVID quarantines may be unnecessary. In updated guidance, the CDC says fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine if they are exposed to someone infected with the virus provided at least two weeks have passed since the second shot. However, they should quarantine if more than three months have passed since the second shot because scientists are still determining how long protection lasts. Individuals should take other precautions and watch for symptoms for 14 days after exposure and quarantine if they show symptoms.
The Bottom Line
Vaccines offer passage out of this pandemic, but until enough people are vaccinated everyone should continue to follow public safety measures to protect themselves and others. This is especially true with at least two highly transmissible variants of COVID-19 circulating in the U.S. The good news is that providers in the U.S. are vaccinating 1.72 million people on average each day and the federal government announced 220 million more doses are coming. Now is the time to use all the tools available to slow the spread of the coronavirus so we can return to normal life.
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